There is a new artist in town that is force to be reckoned with. You may not know her yet, but get ready. West Texas-born Sydney Wright has been writing songs for over a decade, and while her huge voice often gets her compared to pop darlings like Florence and the Machine and Sara Bareilles, there’s a darker, more experimental edge to her work.
Drawing heavily from hip-hop rhythms, with loops of piano, guitar, beatbox and doo-wops, Wright creates a sonically complex, live-looping, one-woman show. Even listening to just one song off her new debut album, her raw artistry, vulnerability and songwriting prowess speaks volumes.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
I’m flying solo as myself, Sydney Wright. I hire my friends to back me up as a full band when I can, but I primarily perform live-loop sets with my RC-300 loop pedal, Lupé.
My ‘go-to’ players are featured on my forthcoming debut album, ‘Seiche’. They are Fred Mandujano on drums, Jacob Hildebrand on guitar, and Justin Thomas Schneider playing bass. I feel lucky and loved to have them on the album and on stage with me when we can. The rest of the album’s sounds come from my multi-instrumentalist producer, Stefano Vieni. He has been my main encourager, contributor, and advisor through these years of album creating, and I am so grateful to have him in mi vida.
Lately, I’ve been working up a live-loop duo performance with my friend Lance Lane on Korg, Roland SPDS, and a drum kit. Lance is not only an incredible musician and producer, he’s also releasing his second hip-hop album soon, and it is FIRE just like the first, ‘Another Lucid Night.’ Check him out.
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Sydney Wright? How long has the band been around?
I started out as a solo artist. I played my first gigs at a BBQ place near my hometown of Snyder, Texas for tips and a steak when I was 16.
During college, I played in a band that we called ‘Sol Tax’ with my cousin, Nathan Norman, and close friend, Aaron Pugh. Check us out, we’re on Spotify:) In 2012, we disbanded. I started shedding the live loops and went back to solo lyfe.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
My name was chosen by my wonderful parents when I was born. ‘Sol Tax’, my previous band, is the name of an anthropologist that worked with the Meskwaki(Fox) Native Americans in the mid-20th century. He worked to give communities autonomy and acted as a resource to help them achieve their own goals which was rarely how anthropology/colonialism went down at the time.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
I write my songs, and I’ve been writing them for over 10 years. The topics of my songs have definitely changed over time. In High School, I would collaborate with recently heartbroken friends to write about their breakups. It seemed helpful for them, and I liked that. Sometimes I write ’story-songs’ that I make up completely and frame them with an ‘intro - conflict - resolution’ mindset. Sometimes my songs are prophetic, or maybe I’m just writing them into existence. Meaning they come to fruition or make more sense to me months to years after I write them.
I am naming my album, ‘Seiche’, because the title-track it is an anthem of transcendence which is a theme in each track in their own subjective ways.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
I feel like the music that I’m making is inspired by all the music I’ve ever liked in my entire history of hearing things. I just bought Caleb Hawley’s ‘Love, Drugs, & Decisions’ album because of his killer cover of Shania’s ‘You’re Still the One’ on his ‘Sex Tape’ EP. I like how he uses space and layers in production, and the blend of natural guitar sounds with synths and drum samples is balancing to me.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
No. I was inspired to lead a band because I want to have the option to perform my songs full-band style. I was inspired to become a songwriter listening to Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ album and singing along with Reckless Kelly and Miranda Lambert when country was my jam. I’m inspired by clever ways to create images to tell a story within a song, and the beauty of a compelling, relatable lyric. That’s what I strive for. My most affirming moments are when someone says something like, ‘I love your song, I listened to it during ____ while I was feeling ___, and it felt like I wrote it myself.’ That’s what I’m going for:)
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, etc …
It depends. If it’s a solo show, I usually just pack up my gear and try to think of clever jokes and things I need to plug between songs. Sometimes I even make a set list:)
If it’s a duo or full band show, I book players, send a playlist of the songs, make sure any new guys have charts, prep any tracks or looping gear we might need, put the set list in order, organize a rehearsal, send in an input list/stage plot, link up with the sound guy, promote-promote-promote, and make sure everyone knows when to be where and what’s expected. #indielyfe
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
My highlight was playing ‘Beyond the Sunset’ for my PawPaw’s funeral in 2008. It was his favorite hymn.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
I would be on the ‘Winter Dance Party’ tour in 1959 with Buddy Holly and supporting acts Ritchie Valens, JP ‘The Big Bopper’ Richardson, and The Belmonts. I’d sabotage the single engine plane that Buddy, JP, and Ritchie, were taking to Fargo so it would never take off or crash, and the music wouldn’t die. Then I would become best friends with Buddy’s bassist, Waylon Jennings, and meet my parents as babies.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Two months ago I was involved in a hit and run here in Austin. I was riding an electric scooter to yoga and got hit by a car in the crosswalk. Now I have titanium implants holding my right leg together, two wrist fractures, two lumbar fractures, a barely broken finger, and a healing skin graft donor site. I’d never had a broken bone or road rash or even stitches before, so dealing with this kind of physical incapacitation has been a brand new experience. I spent some time in the hospital, and I was cleared to ditch the wheelchair and start using crutches last week.
I feel fortunate that this is the most emotionally and physically traumatic hurdle that I’ve had to jump in my 29 years. I feel loved and supported by my friends, family, and even strangers. I feel lucky that I still have my helmet-less head, and that I’ll be able to make a full recovery. I’ve been working since January to get my first solo album released this year, and I’m stoked that it will be coming out on November 9. It’s called ‘Seiche.’
‘Seiche’ is a French word that means ‘to sway back and forth’. Hydrologists use it to define surfing waves on a lake. They occur as a result of a violent atmospheric change or seismic activity that causes the water to slosh back and forth to regain equilibrium. My unexpected experience and the way it has changed my mind and my body has been nothing less than violent. My only choice is to sway back and forth and ride out this uncomfortable wave until I get my balance back.
So far, I’ve released three singles from ‘Seiche’, including the title-track. You can listen to them on any streaming platform, and check out the music video for ‘Seiche’